Abstract

Cobalt, Ontario, is renowned for the 12.6 billion grams (445 million ounces) of silver produced from the area since discovery in 1903 by workers of the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. Native silver generally occurs with cobalt arsenides and sulfosalts in near-vertical carbonate veins cutting the Huronian sedimentary rocks of the Gowganda Formation, the Archean metavolcanics and/or the Nipissing diabase. All major deposits have been found within a few hundred meters of the unconformity between the Archean and Huronian rocks in general proximity to the Nipissing diabase and volcanogenic sulfide mounds within the Archean meta-volcanics. Silver has been mobilized from one or more of the local country rocks by hyper-saline brines and deposited in or near zones of mixing where the saline brines encounter paleometeoric water transported to depth along the unconformity or local structures. Previous work has shown that chloride complexes are the dominant ligands responsible for silver transport. These hypersaline brines, represented as halite-bearing fluid inclusions at room temperature, have been trapped as primary fluid inclusions within vein minerals. Pressure-temperature conditions of vein formation have been derived from mineral equilibria, maximum lithostat and fluid-inclusion studies. These data are consistent with vein formation occurring over the temperature range 300°C to 350°C, with pressures constrained between 60 Mpa and 136 Mpa (600 bars and 1360 bars).

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